Courses

FYS 297 The Idea of Europe

What is Europe? Is it the cradle of all that is civilized and cultured or the blood-soaked ground of empires, genocides, and revolutions? How does one mediate between these two extremes to arrive at a European identity for the twenty-first century? What can we learn from the last 100 years of European history that will help us better understand Europe’spresent? In this course, students explore these questions by engaging deeply with recent literature and scholarship, film and other visual arts, and current news media.

FYS 423 Humor and Laughter in Literature and Visual Media

What is humor? How do we define what is funny? Is humor a universal phenomenon that works across cultures and different generations of readers and film viewers, or is it place- and time-specific? In this seminar students discuss various manifestations, strategies, and functions of humor in selected literary and visual narratives and they consider existing theories of humor and laughter. Open to students with a sense of humor.

FYS 540 Reading Refugees and Migration in European Children’s Literature

This course explores how children’s literature mediates the experiences of migrants and refugees; how it constructs national, ethnic, racial, gender, and other identities; and how it advances or challenges the European ideal of “unity in diversity.” Students critically examine how children’s books depict flight and migration; the identities, needs, and aims of migrants and refugees; the roles of European societies in global conflicts; the negotiation of difference; and the possibilities and limits of intercultural understanding. They also consider whose experiences are highlighted or ignored and, crucially, who gets a voice in the lucrative children’s book market.

GER 101 Introduction to German Language and Culture I

This course, part of a yearlong sequence, introduces students to the German language and its cultural contexts. By emphasizing communicative skills, students learn to speak, build vocabulary, and develop their listening comprehension, reading, and writing skills. GER 101 is only offered in the fall semester. GER 101 is not open to students who have had two or more years of German in secondary school.

GER 102 Introduction to German Language and Culture II

This course, a continuation of GER 101, introduces students to the German language and its cultural contexts. By emphasizing communicative skills, students further develop their speaking, listening comprehension, reading, and writing skills. GER 102 is only offered in the winter semester. GER 102 is not open to students who have had two or more years of German in secondary school. Prerequisite(s): GER 101.

GER 201 Intermediate German Language and Culture I

Offered in the fall, this course is a continuation of GER 101-102. Students further expand their skills through sustained interactive practice in reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as their cultural knowledge about the German-speaking countries through wide-ranging, authentic material. Open to first-year students who enter with at least two years of German. Prerequisite(s): GER 102.

GER 202 Intermediate German Language and Culture II

This course, offered in the winter semester, is a continuation of GER 201. Students further expand their skills through sustained interactive practice in reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as their cultural knowledge about the German-speaking countries through wide-ranging, authentic material. Open to first-year students who enter with at least two years of German. Prerequisite(s): GER 201.

GER 233 Advanced German Language and Introduction to German Studies

A topical course offered in the fall semester and designed to develop linguistic and cultural competency at the advanced level, as well as to introduce students to some of the analytical and interpretative strategies necessary to engage and decode cultural productions originating in the German-speaking world. The course focuses on analysis and critical thinking applied to a variety of written and audiovisual media. Prerequisite(s): GER 202.

GER 252 Tracing the Autobiographical: Personal Narratives in German Literature

The course focuses on autobiographical writings in German literature. Students consider questions about the self-presentation of the authors as narrators of their own stories, the relationship between disclosure and literary invention, and the contested area between truth and fiction in autobiographical forms. They investigate how “life-writing” and “self-writing” can be a literary genre that presents issues such as identity, belonging and Otherness, memory, and trauma. Prerequisite(s): GER 233.

GER 253 Contemporary German Cultures

This project-based course engages students in current issues in the German-speaking countries. The issues may include difficult debates surrounding pluriculturalism, racism, and the legacies of imperialism and authoritarianism, as well as popular culture, such as music, film, or children’s books. Students work in groups to define current trends and place them in a historical context. Prerequisite(s): GER 233.

GER 254 Berlin and Vienna, 1900-1914

From the beginning of the twentieth century to the outbreak of World War I, the capital cities of Berlin and Vienna were home to major political and cultural developments, including diverse movements in art, architecture, literature, and music, as well as the growth of mass party politics. The ascending German Empire and the multiethnic Habsburg Empire teetering on the verge of collapse provide the context within which this course examines well-known and lesser-known texts from the period. Topics include urban growth and its social effects, class and gender anxiety, the role of the military, empire and nationalism, and colonialism at home and abroad. Conducted in English.

GER 256 The Age of Materialism, 1830-1899

The nineteenth century saw the profound transformation of Germany and Austria at all levels of society. The Napoleonic Wars, the failed revolutions of 1848, the ascent of Prussia and the divisions within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the crumbling of feudalism and the emergence of nationalism, scientific advances, and industrialization contributed to the rethinking of political, economic, and social roles, the relationship between the human and the natural worlds, and the nature of reality itself. The course focuses on the investigation of the materiality of the human condition through selected literary, artistic, journalistic, and other texts of the period. Prerequisite(s): GER 233.

GER 262 The Split Screen: Reconstructing National Identities in West and East German Cinema

This course investigates selected works of West and East German cinematic production after 1945. Students engage a broad range of topics and issues that define the popular view of Germany and its culture today. They discuss Germany’s Nazi past, the postwar division of the country and its reunification in 1990, the legacies of the 1968 generation, and the role of minorities in contemporary Germany. The course also provides students with basic tools of film analysis, which are used in the discussion of cinematic art and in the analysis of the specific aesthetic qualities of a film. Conducted in English.

GER 341 Landscapes and Cityscapes in German Media

This course examines the construction of space in a variety of historical and contemporary German media, answering questions such as: What landscapes and cityscapes contribute to a German identity and how? How do geographical location, cultural particularity, and historical context contribute to (sometimes contested) discourses on these spaces? How is the construction of these spaces impacted by the historical diversity of cultures in Central Europe, as well as by modern migration to the area? And how have German speakers conceptualized and colonized “other” spaces in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas? Prerequisite(s): GER 233 and one other 200-level course in German

GER 350 Margins and Migrations

What is German literature? The course examines this question through the lens of writers who are difficult to incorporate into a national narrative. The first part of the course focuses on literatures produced on the margins of the German and Austrian empires in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, while the second part studies the effects of postwar labor migrations and globalization on contemporary German, Austrian, and Swiss literatures. Prerequisite(s): GER 233 and another 200-level course in German. This course may be repeated once for credit.

GER 358 Literature and Film of the German Democratic Republic

This course explores the ways in which literature and film reflect and refract the social and political experiments of the GDR. Topics include the doctrine of Socialist Realism and its (mis)applications, coming to terms with the past, the emergence and problematization of new gender models, youth culture and generational tensions, the role of the individual in socialist society, censorship and artistic experimentation, conformity and resistance, popular culture and the artistic underground, and industrialization and environmental concerns. Attention is given to the sociohistorical contexts of the examined works and the means and ends of literary and cinematic creations of (alternate) realities. Prerequisite(s): GER 233 and another 200-level course in German.

GER 360 Independent Study

Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester.

GER 365 Special Topics

GER 457 Senior Thesis

A capstone project, which may take the form of a written research paper, community-engaged project, translation project, or digital portfolio, designed in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students register for German 457 in the fall semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both German 457 and 458.

GER 458 Senior Thesis

A capstone project, which may take the form of a written research paper, community-engaged project, translation project, or digital portfolio, designed in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students register for German 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both German 457 and 458.

GER S26 The Split Screen: Reconstructing National Identities in West and East German Cinema

This course investigates selected films from West and East German after 1945. Students engage a broad range of topics and issues that define the popular view of Germany and its cultures today. They discuss Germany’s Nazi past, the postwar division of the country and its reunification in 1990, the legacies of the 1968 generation, and diversity in contemporary Germany. The course also provides students with basic tools of film analysis, which are used in the discussion of cinematic art and in the analysis of the specific aesthetic qualities of a film. Conducted in English.

GER S27 German Beer: Art, Science, History and Theory of a German Tradition

This course is devoted to the study of Braukunst, the art of brewing, from its earliest origins in Mesopotamia to the most modern mass production. Students examine the production and consumption of beer from cultural, chemical, historical, and economic points of view, considering beer as an agricultural product, a consumer good, a culinary staple, and a cultural artifact. The emphasis is on the German and central European traditions. The practical component of the course include designing and brewing beer, and touring a Maine microbrewery and hops farm. Conducted in English. Students with background in German will have the option to complete selected readings in German. Only open to juniors and seniors.

GER S50 Independent Study

RUSS 101 Elementary Russian I

This course, offered in the fall semester as part of a yearlong sequence, introduces students to Russian language and culture with an emphasis on listening and speaking. Students also experience the richness of modern Russia through a variety of authentic texts including music, art, film, and television. Conducted in Russian.

RUSS 102 Elementary Russian II

This course, offered in the winter semester, is a continuation of RUSS 101 with an emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students continue their introduction to modern Russia through authentic texts including music, film, and television excerpts, and selected items from recent newspapers and the Internet. Conducted in Russian.

RUSS 111 Protestors, Punks, and Pioneers: Youth in Eastern Europe

This course examines the role of youth and student culture in shaping East European societies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Course materials including film, literature, journalism, and music provide an introduction to East European cultural and social history and encourage students to explore themes of identity, activism, expression, and community. As students move from considering the role of youth in the Russian Revolution to contemporary student protests in support of human rights, class discussions bring new perspectives to the ways young people both navigate and foster change in the times and spaces they occupy.

RUSS 201 Intermediate Russian I

This course, offered in the fall semester, is a continuation of Elementary Russian, focusing on vocabulary acquisition and greater control of more complex and extended forms of discourse. Conducted in Russian. Prerequisite(s): RUSS 102.

RUSS 202 Intermediate Russian II

This course, offered in the winter semester, is a continuation of RUSS 201 and completes students’ introduction to the formal aspects of Russian language. Emphasis is placed on students’ use of Russian to express themselves orally and in writing. Conducted in Russian. Prerequisite(s): RUSS 201.

RUSS 216 Nature in the Cultures of Russia

This course explores the connections among environment, culture, and identity in the Eurasian landmass that has been home to Russians, Siberians, and Central Asians. After a brief consideration of the ways in which Russian identities have been grounded in deeply conservative understandings of land and peasantry, students consider alternative and revisionist versions that draw on “nature” to explore gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, often in direct opposition to the state. Conducted in English. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205 or one course in European studies or Russian.

RUSS 247 Putin’s Russia on Film: Russian Cinema in Contemporary Cultural and Political Context

The course engages students with Putin’s Russia through cinema and discusses a European culture that is, at the same time, non-Western in its political make up. Topics discussed include the colonial center and its contemporary political and cultural ambitions, imperial periphery and Russia’s “quiet others,” the Russian Idea in New Auteurism, Putin’s blockbusters, Russia’s alterities (minorities, sexualities, taboo Russia), Global Russia (the United States, Europe, Russia, and Ukraine).

RUSS 247 Putin’s Russia on Film

The course engages students with Putin’s Russia through cinema and discusses a European culture that is, at the same time, non-Western in its political make up. Topics discussed include the colonial center and its contemporary political and cultural ambitions, imperial periphery and Russia’s “quiet others,” the Russian Idea in New Auteurism, Putin’s blockbusters, Russia’s alterities (minorities, sexualities, taboo Russia), Global Russia (the United States, Europe, Russia and Ukraine).

RUSS 301 Advanced Russian I

This course, normally offered in the fall semester, focuses on the essentials of contemporary colloquial Russian. Students read short unabridged texts in both literary and journalistic styles, and write one- and two-page papers on a variety of topics. Conducted in Russian. This course may be repeated once for credit with permission of the instructor. Prerequisite(s): RUSS 202.

RUSS 302 Advanced Russian II

This course, normally offered in the winter semester, is a continuation of RUSS 301, in which students read and discuss texts in a variety of styles from political speeches to short novels, from songs to feature-length films. Students write a number of short papers ranging from opinion pieces to literary parodies. Conducted in Russian. This course may be repeated once for credit with permission of the instructor. Prerequisite(s): RUSS 202.

RUSS 306 Advanced Russian Culture and Language

This course develops oral fluency and aural acuity as well as reading and writing skills through directed and spontaneous classroom activities and individual and collaborative written assignments. Conversations and compositions are based on feature films and film criticism, documentary films, and short fiction and nonfiction texts. Conducted in Russian. Prerequisite(s): RUSS 202.

RUSS 360 Independent Study

RUSS 365 Special Topics

RUSS S27 From Baba Yaga to Putin: Myths and Legends in Russian Culture

The course analyzes many aspects of Russian folk and popular culture from pre-Christian to post-Soviet Russia and how folklore continues to influence contemporary Russian culture. The first part of the course concentrates on Russian folk belief as expressed through oral lore, visual arts, and music. The second part of the course focuses on the myth and folktale in the Soviet Union. The course concludes with the uses of folklore in Putin’s Russia and the interaction between the forms of traditional folklore and modern popular culture.

RUSS S50 Independent Study